Adam Green has picked up on Dave Winer’s enhancements to the OPML spec and the biggy mentioned is OPML outlines within an RSS feed.
I think this means that a new item in your feed will be an outline you can expand to read…
Not sure how you put an outline in a blog post, but I remember posting a while back on OPML blogs, but this was more about the whole blog being an OPML outline, whereas here we are talking about having an OPML outline within a blog post or within a news feed item.
So instead of your blog post or new feed item having a bunch of paragraphs, it’s all in outline form so you have to expand each node to read contents.
Imagine a library blog utilising this so a blog post for a new book could almost be like a library catalogue entry.
Why package a feed item in an OPML outline?
As I mentioned above some blog posts or feed items don’t have to be written as they can already use an existing OPML.
In the example above imagine each record in the library catalogue was packaged in OPML…when the library acquires a new book, they create an OPML record for it, then send that OPML into a blog post or perhaps the catalogue itself has a feed for newly added items.
Anyway the new RSS item would be a neat OPML outline…why write this out again when OPML is so reusable.
I could have a personal favourite books OPML I make at Grazr
…each day I open my Google Reader and read my RSS feed for the latest library books
…if there is a book I want to read I take the OPML from this RSS feed item and drag it into my Grazr OPML.
My Grazr OPML is full of OPML includes, each one being a library book record, and I grabbed each of these records from the latest books RSS feed that the library catalogue generates.
Another example is an RSS feed item that has the latest details about a users profile (address, webpage, email, phone, etc…)
…if this RSS feed item was in OPML, then we could grab this user profile OPML and re-use it elsewhere.
What I mean here is that instead of linking to an OPML, my latest blog post itself would be an OPML of my profile, then after reading this RSS item (which is actually an OPML), you could grab it and put it elsewhere, how’s that, a re-usable blog post.
Tags in OPML
I mentioned on my recent post on Grazr that I’d like to tag my OPML’s so I can organise them.
You can use tags to mean anything, but generally it’s to describe the aboutness of something, so if I want to find my OPML’s on “library”, I just click that tag and get all those OPML’s about “library”.
Imagine that in aggregate (for the whole of Grazr), this makes for great discovery.
What about at the more granular level…with annotated OPML’s.
What I’m refering to is tagging a node in an OPML.
You may have an OPML of your Top 10 feeds, and you may want to tag each feed in this OPML.
Now you can search metadata in nodes within an OPML.
If I find an OPML with 300 feeds, and there are no folders, how do I find feeds on a topic within this OPML.
If each feed was tagged, then I could search the OPML with a tag…or the OPML could have it’s own tag cloud.
What if I had an OPML with 10 OPML includes in it, and each “include” had 100 feeds, that’s 1000 feeds.
If each feed was tagged, then I could search across these 10 OPML includes and find feeds about a specific topic.
Most Reading Lists (OPML’s where the nodes are feeds) come from RSS Readers, where the feeds are organised in folders, now if the value of these folders could automatically becomes the tag describing the feed, then this could happen automatically.
I’m aware this is more for convenience, and not good practice as folders may be used to manage stuff with methods other than by subject.